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Sharon with the Magic Hands

For someone who writes about beauty I have a surprisingly temperamental relationship with facials. You’d think I’d automatically love them, considering my ongoing dedication to finding the very best things for my skin. And my passion for, er, lying down with my eyes closed.

But no. I’ve had some absolutely terrible facials – one day I’ll write about them for your amusement – and I’ve also had a hell of a lot of mediocre ones. And I’ve realised, over the years, that it is never a given that a facial will be enjoyable and/or effective. It’s never guaranteed that your hard-earned cash will earn you that glorious sense of total, sinking relaxation, where you nod in and out of consciousness and drool out of the side of your mouth. Neither can you bank on getting dramatic skincare results from your facial – a totally lifted visage, for example, or skin that looks as though it’s been steam-ironed smooth and then glazed like a doughnut.

It’s a game of roulette. Maybe you’ll get someone with a healing touch who will gently pummel and knead your face into oblivion after applying just a few drops of scented oil. Maybe it’ll turn out to be one of those impressively technical, highly-skilled skin-changing facials where they steam you and laser you and extract impurities you didn’t know you had and use acids so strong you have to have a fan directed at your face to stop it from combusting.

But there’s always the risk that it won’t be either of these types of facial, that it’ll be the uninspiring mediocre option: sixty minutes of what is basically a brand-led product demonstration, where each of the nine masks and exfoliants in their range is applied in turn, “left to get to work” for a while and then, after ten minutes, tediously removed with wet flannels.

Nothing makes me more restless and tetchy than paying for someone to repeatedly and laboriously apply things to my face that I could feasibly apply in just the same way at home. Especially when they leave the product on and do nothing else in the “letting it get to work phase” and I just have to lie there, listening to the therapist wash up in the sink behind my head, clanging the mask-mixing spoons about. Where’s the expert touch? Where’s the element of luxury?

Maybe it’s just me, but if I had a face mask on at home then I’d be doing something else at the same time – reading, relaxing in the bath, watching TV. There’s something massively irksome about paying for the same downtime but not being able to actually enjoy it as downtime. In my opinion, if a face mask is on and getting to work then something else needs to be happening – a hand and arm massage, perhaps, or a scalp massage. There shouldn’t be dead time when the meter is running.


This has turned into the longest ever intro to what I was actually going to tell you, which was that I had a facial last week with Sharon McGlinchey, founder of skincare brand MV Skin Therapy. It is never a game of roulette with Sharon’s facials: I don’t (secretly) call her Sharon Magic Hands for nothing. Not only does she unwind me into the sort of relaxed stupor most people only achieve with an over-the-counter sedative, she cajoles my skin into becoming a rested, glowing version of its former self. No trickery, no gimmickery, just pure sensorial bliss and complete mind-and-body-tranquility.

I tell you this not to encourage you to book a facial with Sharon, because that’s impossible. She lives in Sydney and, though she does sometimes massage the faces of the very, very famous, running her brand MV Skin Therapy leaves her next to no time to provide regular sessions. (I see her when she dashes over to London on PR business once a year and, let me tell you, it’s one of the biggest perks of my job.) No, I tell you about Sharon’s magic hands and ability to create sensorial bliss and complete tranquility because all of the very same energy and passion is poured into her skincare.

Ad info: not paid or sponsored. I have previously received press samples from the brand and facials for PR purposes. The links below are not affiliate links. 

More of the same energy, in fact. And a strong sense of diligence when it comes to formulating, and an impressive commitment to quality when she’s sourcing her ingredients. MV Skin Therapy is a tiny range, made in tiny batches, but it is oh-so-perfectly formed. The most gentle of cream cleansers, impeccably sourced oils, a clay mask that suits even the most sensitive of skins – all of it adaptable and multi-tasking with a spritz of rose mist here and a few drops of booster there…

My favourites? They’ve barely changed in the ten or so years I’ve been using the brand. First, the Rose Soothing & Protective Moisturiser, here, which is the perfect “skin reset” cream for faces that are angsty, over-sensitive and in need of some extra care. I’ve been using this for years and see it as a sort of skincare comfort blanket; rose scents seem to be very calming for me, but the formula itself is just so instantly soothing.

I also love the Rose Booster – a couple of drops of this pressed onto slightly damp skin is the biggest treat. It’s an investment – this bottle contains the most expensive, most luxurious of oils – but you really do only need a tiny bit at a time. Again, the smell is hugely comforting to me but I also love the extra glow I get from this if I mix the tiniest amount of it into moisturiser or apply neat to damp skin.

Top tip: you can add Rose Mist to the Rose Moisturiser to turn it into a more fluid texture, but adding a few drops of the booster makes it richer and oilier and a joy to massage in.

Talking of things that are a joy to massage in: Pure Jojoba Oil. This is an amazing multitasker to have on call; it’s an oil but not as you (probably) know it. It’s massively good at moisturising but at the same time completely lightweight and non pore-clogging – great for calming dry, itchy skin but not heavy, claggy or greasy. A bit of an SOS skincare product, really, and great for a myriad of things including soothing post-shave skin and layering beneath eye cream for an added boost.

I currently have a discount code for the MV Skin Therapy UK website; use RUTH20 for 20% off*. When you’re over there, make sure you check out the guided meditations – you might not be able to book Sharon’s Magic Facial Hands for love nor money but you can listen to her dulcet tones as you massage in your Rose Booster…

(*This isn’t an affiliate code or a paid promotion, MV kindly gave me a code to share and it’s valid until 7th June 2024.)

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